Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Greenhouse

This week's homework was to think of an item we used to own but no longer have.
Strangely I chose a greenhouse and from that thought based a purely fictional short story....

The Greenhouse

William Frobisher liked Wednesdays.  His wife, Deidre, would go into town to have her hair set, meet her sister for lunch and then spend the afternoon selecting books in the library.  William would spend Wednesdays in his greenhouse with his roses, a foil pack of ham and pickle sandwiches and severely brewed tea in a tartan flask.  He grew traditional floribunda roses, Duke of York, Douglas and Amber Queen.  His greenhouse was small, cedar wood framed and, in William’s opinion, the best place in the world.  In Summer the top window would open and it would allow just a tiny bit of cool air, William would dose in the garden chair he had positioned between the grow bags.  In Autumn the rain would patter on the glass and he would feel cosy and dry.  In Winter he would take a little fan heater in with him, thankfully he had ran an electrical cable from the house years ago.  In Spring, his busiest and favourite time of year he would be on his feet wood treating the greenhouse frame, keeping it safe from weather elements.  Many times Deirdre would suggest a new greenhouse, one of a metal frame construction; William would shudder, no, definitely not for him.

William Frobisher died on a Wednesday, quietly and peacefully dosing in his garden chair between pots of Rhapsody in Blue and Ray of Hope.

Frank Carlisle shouted at his son again, “Get a move on.”  He was a lazy article.  Carlisle & Son, House Clearance Specialists consisted of Frank and his good for nothing son, Bernard.  Frank carried the business and it worried him how his son would ever take over.  Today they were heading to Kent to collect a greenhouse.  Ordinarily it wouldn’t be worth the time and effort but Frank had felt a twinge of sadness for the woman on the phone.  It surprised him because he did so many house clearances after funerals; perhaps he was going soft in his old age.  Also the idea of a little cedar wood greenhouse appealed to him.  He thought he might install it in his niece’s garden; she was partial to planting up a few bedding plants each year and at the moment only had one of those little lean-to greenhouses.

It didn’t take long to dismantle each of the greenhouse sections.  Bernard had finally woken up enough to be useful.  Frank said no to the garden chair and when he was offered a rose he remarked that it was a pretty colour but he didn’t ‘do roses’.

Beth Sinclair was thrilled with the little cedar wood greenhouse.  It was smaller than she expected but within just a few months she realised how sweet and cosy it was.  She set up some staging, lined up all her seed trays and grew enough marigolds and geraniums to fill her garden and both her neighbours.  She planned to spend a couple of hours in her greenhouse each day while James was at work but more often James would return home and find her still pricking out seedlings and checking for greenfly.   She was at her happiest in her greenhouse; she decided to place a garden chair between her tomato plants, just to sit down occasionally when her legs ached. 

Beth was so shocked to be pregnant, they had been trying for years and just at the point she had resigned herself to accepting that she wouldn’t be a mother, it happened.  Everyone fussed over her which she didn’t like.  She would seek sanctuary in her greenhouse, never taking her phone out there – it was her peaceful place of escape.  The birth was complicated, the baby was fine but Beth stayed in hospital for a couple of weeks.  James, ever the organiser, explained that he had got everything ready at home, every single labour saving device he could find.  Beth was anxious to be home, she imagined the baby in her pram in the garden while she worked in her greenhouse; she would need to plant up the next batch of seedlings soon.
James pulled open the curtains revealing the garden makeover.  The majority of the lawn had been paved and gravelled (that would cut down on mowing).  The borders had been made into raised beds (that would save bending) and the little cedar wood greenhouse had gone.  In its place was a ‘Hartley Vista’ – James read from the brochure, “a modern aluminium frame combining straight lines and sweeping curves into a shark-fin style roofline shape that will catch the eye of any visitors to your garden, while providing you with variable headroom for a flexible workspace.”

Beth cried.  James consoled her, explaining it was probably the ‘baby blues’.

Christine Emberson
October 2012

Monday, 15 October 2012


So here I am back in the world of creative writing, returned to evening classes and each week I'm set homework!  


Sarah had never received a gold star.  Each lesson she would eagerly wait for her exercise book to be handed back to her and would quickly flick to the last piece of work she had completed, hoping upon hope that a glint of gold would greet her, but it was not to be.

Sarah would then stare at Miss Fitzwilliam and try to be angry with her but she couldn't, Miss Fitzwilliam was beautiful.  She was the exact woman that Sarah wanted to be when she was grown up.  Today Miss Fitzwilliam was wearing a black pleated skirt, a scarlet blouse and a large bead necklace that was looped twice but arranged perfectly.  Her nails were painted the exact same red as her blouse.  Miss Fitzwilliam's blonde hair bounced with huge curls when she walked up and down the classroom, someone once said that she must sleep with her hair in rollers but Sarah didn't believe that.  She imagined Miss Fitzwilliam waking up looking the exact image that stood before her now.

Sarah tried so hard to achieve a gold star but the best she had only ever received were the words 'Much better', 'Good' and just the once, 'Well done'.  Miss Fitzwilliam used an ink pen, the ink was not quite blue or black, sort of in-between.  Her letters joined together flawlessly, every 'i' had a dot exactly above it and every ‘y’ and ‘g’ had a perfect tail.  Sarah practiced to make her letters look the same and had even asked her parents for an ink pen but her letters still looked stubby and scruffy.  Deep in thought about her inadequate handwriting she did not notice that Miss Fitzwilliam was selecting someone to clean the blackboard until she was standing right before her, blackboard rubber in hand.  She stretched out to hand it to Sarah who clasped the blackboard rubber as if Miss Fitzwilliam had handed her a gold bar.  She actually felt a little sad at rubbing away Miss Fitzwilliam's beautiful handwriting from the board.  It was only when she placed the rubber back on the desk that she noticed it, a stray gold star.  It had fallen from the little packet that sat inside Miss Fitzwilliam's pencil case.  Sarah hesitated for just one moment and picked it up, cupping it in her palm before anyone could see.  Sitting back at her desk she felt hot but excited.  A gold star, she could stick it in her book, perhaps next to the comment of 'Well done', she would show her parents, they would be so proud. 

And they were.  They smiled and commented that Sarah must take after them both, such a bright girl, so pleased that she was trying so hard.  Sarah tried to smile with them but she couldn't.  Instead she felt incredibly sad, more sad than she had ever been.  It wasn't a real gold star, it was a pretend one.  She hadn't earned it, Miss Fitzwilliam hadn’t given it to her.  It began to look faded and tarnished.  Before school the next day in the privacy of the girls’ toilet she began to unpeel it from her exercise book.  Even picking at the edges carefully it was ripping the page, Sarah wanted to cry - was this because she had stolen it and done such a bad thing.

In the classroom she sat with her head down, she didn't notice Miss Fitzwilliam outfit for the day, she barely looked at the blackboard and when it was time to hand in her exercise book her heart felt like a lead weight.  At break time she didn't join in with the skipping and at lunchtime she pushed her liver and bacon around the plate until the dinner monitor spoke sharply to her. 

Back in the classroom that afternoon, Rebecca Wainwright was asked to clean the blackboard whilst Miss Fitzwilliam handed out the marked exercise books.  Sarah decided she would not rush to flick through hers, she knew her spellings had not been good and that her attempt at poetry was only four lines about a cat.  She was therefore so surprised when Miss Fitzwilliam bent down over her desk, opened her book for her and there, under the four line cat poem was a gold star.  Sarah gasped, she looked up at Miss Fitzwilliam, back to her book, not quite believing her eyes but it was true, a gold star shining out, just for her.  Written in beautiful handwriting next to it were the words 'Sometimes stars take longer to fall'.  One day Sarah would understand what that really meant but right now, she couldn’t wait to run home and show her parents.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010


I'm glad to say that now Summer holidays are here the whole stressful exam time has passed (although results in 20 days). But while exams were paramount in my home, my son turned into a different person and I felt compelled to write this....

A stranger moved into my home,
He didn’t use the door; he seeped through the walls,
Slept in the same bed, wore the same clothes
But uttered a different language
He stayed for three weeks and two days
And left with at least the graciousness of returning -
My son.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

On Starting Senior School

As my eldest son sits his final exam tomorrow and he can technically leave school I found it poignant to post this poem about his very first day at senior school.....

Deep breaths, in and out,
At first the only indication of your nervousness,
Hardly any breakfast
My son with hollow legs.
Then you fiddle with your tie,
“Too long!” you exclaim
In and out, those breaths,
A laboured breathing.
I watch you and my chest feels speared
And as we drive I gently tap your leg
“I’m nervous,” you admit.
And I want to cry but I know I can’t
Not yet.
You walk from the car with a little wave,
I choke, loudly.
For you are a child in man’s clothing
“It's too soon.” I want to shout
Bring him back. Now!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

With reference to....

If any of you are familiar with Henry Reed and in particular his Naming of Parts poem, this is my updated take on it.  I could not resist posting this! ;-)

(With reference to ‘Naming of Parts’ by Henry Reed)

Today we have the pairing of socks. Yesterday,
We had oven cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have the school run. But today,
Today we have the pairing of socks. The leaves,
Autumnal shades, masses that I want to run and kick through,
And today we have the pairing of socks.

This is the shopping list. And this
Is the bank account, which you will see is overdrawn,
An appointment at the bank to plead for an overdraft,
Which in my case I have not got. Picnics,
Laying on tartan rugs, sipping bubbly champagne, nibbling strawberries.
Which in my case I have not got.

This is the ironing pile; it should be done weekly,
With ease you should see the bottom of the basket. Please
Do not allow it to overflow. It can be done effortlessly
If you have determination and willpower. Rain,
Oily rainbow puddles that you stamp and splosh, noisy gutters,
That you do not allow to overflow.

And this, as you can see is the homework. The purpose of this
Is to improve your children, enhance their education.
Reams of paper and yet ‘please use the internet’.
Alien abbreviations – DT, ICT. Orchards,
Scrumping, pockets bulging, tummy aches, racing home.
And this is to progress your children.

They call it development – this stealer of time,
The shopping list, the bank account, the ironing basket,
The homework and the desire for an overdraft,
Which in my case I have not got; and childhood fleetingly recalled,
Sherbet Dips, Refreshers, Pacers and Spangles, no concern of E numbers.
For today we have the pairing of socks.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010


Hello everyone and especially those from 'Get It Write'.  Thought it was about time I got organised and had a blog purely for my writing.  A little bit about me in the writing world:  I've been creating characters for many many years, I've had various short stories published with the Accent Press Sexy Shorts range (not as racy as it sounds!) numerous poems published and in 2004 was delighted to be National Ford Fiesta Short Writing Competition winner - I won a car... (for 6 months!)  Now I belong to a monthly writing group and berate myself on a daily basis that I certainly do not write enough!  So that's a snippet of me.  Hoping to post many more items soon. :-)